Acne won again :-( but not before I learned about the benefits of reducing my sugar intake.
I had heard many times that sugar is the culprit of bad skin—it can cause inflammation and increased oil production from high insulin levels in the bloodstream. But I didn’t think that I could completely give up sugar. I was that person who drank 'coffee' (mainly frappuccinos) for the sugar and ate the frosting off cupcakes. Fast forward to today, at my breaking point with acne. I had tried EVERYTHING from laser treatments to Accutane, Zinc supplements, tea tree oil, wearing no makeup, and countless beauty products. Nothing worked long-term.
And if I still needed convincing, I read that the American Heart Association recommends that women have no more than 25g of sugar a day (men 36g). When I looked at the energy bars, dried fruit and breakfast foods in the pantry, I was BLOWN AWAY at how much sugar was added to everything—basically the daily recommended amount or more. And these weren’t even foods that I would consider ‘sugary.’ I was likely having over 60g a day without even realizing it or having any dessert.
So here was my new eating plan:
No refined sugar (sweets, chocolate, any food with added sugar)
Whole wheat grains only (no white bread or carbs)
Added lemon juice or cucumbers to water
Overall, I mostly stuck to it and did my best to choose the ‘least evil option.’ Here is what happened:
I stopped craving sugar after a couple weeks. Days 10-14 were the most difficult and ‘cranky’ for me, but after that I became much less moody. Did you know it can take a month or two for cravings to go away?
I found foods that I liked just as much as my 'go-tos' and even found my new favorite pizza!
I had more energy throughout the day, especially in the morning, and stopped needing caffeine.
I felt healthier overall and eventually began craving healthier foods.
It was easier than I thought to find substitutions (e.g., corn crust pizza, whole wheat almost anything, dark chocolate bars).
Unfortunately, my skin did NOT get any better on my new diet as I hoped. I guess on the positive side it also didn’t get any worse. Apparently you can only do so much to work against genetics (sigh). In the end, I am glad I limited my sugar intake because I felt healthier and was pleased with the energy and waistline.
If you want to try to eat less sugar, I hope you find some of my favorite food substitutions and long-term habits helpful—and enjoy discovering your own!:
Evolve chocolate bars for caffeine or energy boosts
Vicolo pizza: seriously the best ever!
Whole wheat waffles (with bananas and peanut or cashew butter)
No more breakfast bars
Plain yogurt with honey, fruit and chia seeds
If you have any 'non-sugary' food suggestions or substitutions that hit the spot, definitely comment below!